We Cannot Work Without God

From “Discourse 1928,” Horae Homileticae (1832).

In order to get forward in our Christian course, we must unite a strenuous exertion of our own powers with an humble dependence on divine aid.  We cannot work without God; and God will not work without us.  If we look to him for assistance, and yet labor in a diligent and prudent way, he will strengthen us with his almighty power, and perfect us.  

St. Paul, cautioning the Christians at Rome against those who caused divisions and offences, exhorts them to cultivate that wisdom of the serpent and that harmlessness of the dove, which would serve to counteract their efforts: yet for their final success he directs their eyes to God, through whose co-operation alone they could maintain their integrity, and in whose strength they should eventually overcome… 

Satan is an active and powerful adversary to God’s people… But God has promised to “bruise him under our feet” God is “the God of peace” primarily as being reconciled to us through the death of his son… Though permitted to fight against us, Satan’s rage is overruled for the benefit of the saints and the glory of God… He is even now a vanquished enemy.  And soon shall the very weakest believer trample on him, as Joshua trampled on the necks of the kings of Canaan… 

To defeat his malignant efforts, God increases the strength of his people, and gives them a deeper insight into the devices of their enemy.  He clothes them with divine armor and teaches them how to use the sword of the Spirit, and the shield of faith, (Eph. 6).  By exercise God renders them expert soldiers and he enables them to “war a good warfare.”

Instead of exposing themselves needlessly to danger, they are now taught to “watch and be sober.”  Instead of indulging a vain conceit of their own purity and strength, they are led to suspect the treachery of their own hearts, and to depend more simply on the grace of Christ.  Therefore they learn to fight a good fight.  And, though sometimes wounded by his fiery darts, they “resist their enemy till he flees from them,” (James 4:17).  He will give them a complete and everlasting victory over him in the world to come. 

Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was an English cleric, the most prominent evangelical Anglican leader of his time. He served Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge for 43 years, converting thousands of students, and inspiring many to ordained ministry, especially in the mission field.  He helped to organize the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society. His great work was the Horae Homileticae, a sermonical commentary on the whole Bible. He is commemorated on November 12 on the calendars of several Anglican churches. 


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